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PPIC: Voters Want Budget-Fix Taxes on the Ballot

Jan26

A survey by the Public Policy Institute of California has found that two-thirds of likely voters say it’s a good idea to hold a special election on Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to extend fee and tax increases to help cover the state’s $25-billion budget deficit. More than half the voters say they’d support the measure.

The findings confirm private polling reported by Calbuzz last week that suggest the principal reason why conservative anti-tax jihadists don’t want to put Brown’s measure on the ballot is that they’re afraid it will pass.

According to PPIC, 66% of likely voters – including 73% of Democrats, 64% of independents and even 55% of Republicans – approve of putting Brown’s proposed extension of fees and taxes on the ballot.

Moreover, 54% of voters – 65% of Democrats, 60% of independents but just 37% of Republicans – favor the extension of personal income and sales taxes and vehicle license fees.

The survey also confirmed findings from polling by Jim Moore for the California Issues Forum that when the elements of Brown’s proposal are characterized as tax increases rather than extensions, voters recoil: 70% reject raising personal income taxes, 64% are against increasing sales taxes and 62% oppose increasing the vehicle license fee. The only tax increase with popular support – 55% — would be an increase in taxes paid by corporations. As we said last week, should Brown’s proposal make the ballot, the battle will be between those who call his plan an “extension” of taxes and those who call them tax “increases.”

In response to the part of Brown’s budget proposal that has generated the noisiest and most orchestrated blow-back, PPIC reported voters favored, by 63-26%, “phasing out funding for local redevelopment agencies and eliminating state tax benefits for enterprise zones in order to redirect that tax revenue to local governments for schools and other local services.”

[Coincidentally, Moore reported on Wednesday that another survey, just completed, found that by 73-20% voters favor Brown’s proposal to “eliminate local redevelopment agency programs that now use property tax revenues for development projects and instead use the money for schools, police and fire services.”  In both PPIC’s and Moore’s polls, Democrats (68% PPIC; 77% Moore) were even more supportive of eliminating redevelopment agencies than independents and Republicans.]

PPIC found that a slight plurality of voters – 45% — favor patching the state’s budget hole with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, compared to 41% who favor mostly spending cuts and just 8% who support mostly tax increases.

Yet when asked about specific budget areas, 62% of voters say they’d support higher taxes to maintain current funding for K-12 public education, 51% for higher education and 46% for health and human services. Just 14% would support increasing taxes to maintain funding of prisons and corrections.

PPIC reported that when read a description of Brown’s proposed budget, 58% of likely voters say they are generally satisfied, including 64% of Democrats, 57% of independents and even 49% of Republicans.

Nearly three-fourths of voters – 73% — favor the governor’s call to shift responsibility and funds to local governments for various programs now run by the state. The idea is popular across party lines and throughout the state.

On the other hand, only half the voters now support the idea of giving local jurisdictions the ability to pass increased taxes with a 55% vote instead of a 2/3 majority. There’s a partisan divide on that question, with Democrats in favor 61-32%, independents leaning 50-41% in favor and Republicans opposed 61-33%.

While they like his budget proposal, Brown’s approval rating among likely voters is just 47-20% favorable, with 33% undecided. That a third of the voters have no opinion suggests that the governor has done little to reach out beyond the state capital to sell his budget plan – a reflection of his decision to work with legislators and interests groups before turning to the public broadly.

PPIC also reported:

Californians are feeling better about the direction of the state and their own financial futures, but most are still not feeling good. A majority (54%) continue to say that things in California are going in the wrong direction. However, the share of those who see things going in the right direction—38 percent—is up 22 points since October and the highest percentage since September 2007. Most independents (58%) and a large majority of Republicans (81%) remain pessimistic about the direction of the state. But for the first time since September 2007, Democrats are more likely to say the state is going in the right direction (51%) than in the wrong one (39%).

Turning to economic conditions in California, a majority of adults (56%) expect bad times financially in the next 12 months. But the percentage expecting good times—36 percent—is up 11 points since October. Despite their sunnier view of the economic outlook, most (86%) still believe the state is in a recession, with 48 percent viewing it as a serious recession.

PPIC surveyed 2,004 California adult residents interviewed on landlines and cell phones from January 11–18, 2011. Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish. The margin of error is ±3.5 percent for all adults and ±4.2 percent for the 987 likely voters.


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There is one comment for this post

  1. avatar jamessyl1 says:

    The polls track with the impression I’m getting from conversations I’ve had. I wonder what distractions and silly claims the Republicans will come with to try to disguise the real questions here?

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